In this morning’s Times, lead beat writer Marc Topkin offered a series of reasons why the Rays were performing better in the current six-game win streak than they were earlier in the season (when they started the year 1-8).
Among those reasons were that the Rays offense finally has a routine:
The Rays are hitting more and scoring more, and for several potential reasons. One is that the players, even after the loss of Kevin Kiermaier to injury, needed time to get more comfortable in their roles and spots in the order. Another that they needed time to get into the normal batting practice routine to get work done.
Hitting coach Chad Mottola said the combination of spending much of the tail end of spring training playing day and road games, and then taking their first road trip to frigid New York, Boston and Chicago, and playing all day games, had an impact.
”There wasn’t as much panic as there should have been, based on Hold on, we haven’t got a true days work in between the snow and all mornings, so no one got any type of routine in,’’ he said. “We got home and did not do well against the Phillies, but it was nice building that little bit of a routine and it’s starting to show now.’’
As Cash acknowledged, part of the reason the Rays lost eight of their first nine was that they played seven of them against the Red Sox, who went into play Thursday with an MLB-best 18-5 record. In going 8-5 since, the Rays have played the more pedestrian White Sox, Phillies (who swept them), Rangers, Twins and Orioles.
I found the routine argument from Mottola to be most compelling.
The Rays had a fairly frustrating Spring schedule, and the mix of snow and day games (with only a small weight room and an indoor batting cage to prepare in the early hours at Fenway) had to frustrate the Rays hitters.
Heck, it had to frustrate the pitchers too. On the day Kittredge was to start in Boston, he was bundled in the Rays clubhouse, donning his beanie and jacket inside to get as warm as possible before taking the field. Once on the mound, he was regularly blowing hot air into his fist to warm his pitching hand. These were miserable conditions for both sides, but the Rays certainly suffered.
Do you agree with Chad Mottola that more consistent and predictable routines explain the Rays’ improved offense, or are other factors more important? Let us know your thoughts:
Why is the Rays offense performing so well?
This poll is closed
Consistent playing time for Rays hitters
The Rays finally have an established routine
The Rays have been playing easier teams
The Rays were always this good, they just needed time to shine
The Rays aren’t this good, it’s just been a crazy month (re: small sample sizes)